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MLL: Charlotte Hounds fall to NY Lizards in home finale

By Bill Kiser
Correspondent

While the Charlotte Hounds may be out of the running for a berth in the Major League Lacrosse playoffs, that doesn’t mean they’ve given up on the rest of the season.

The Hounds nearly became a playoff spoiler Friday, taking the New York Lizards down to the wire before losing 12-11 in their home finale at Memorial Stadium.

Matt Danowski scored three goals and assisted on a fourth and rookie Justin Ward set a team record for assists in a season for Charlotte (4-9), which lost its fourth straight and fell into a tie with the Chesapeake Bayhawks at the bottom of the MLL standings.

“That’s a playoff team, and we’re a young team,” Hounds coach Mike Cerino said. “It was going to be a one-possession game, and we needed to execute there at the end.”

Ward, the Hounds’ third-round pick in the 2014 collegiate draft, had three assists against the Lizards (8-5), giving him 20 on the season. That surpassed the team record of 19, set by Danowski in 2012.

Charlotte goalkeeper Pierce Bassett, getting the start ahead of veteran Adam Ghitelman, tied Ghitelman’s team record with a 20-save performance Friday. But the Hounds turned the ball over 19 times, with six of those coming in the fourth quarter.

Even with the turnovers, Charlotte appeared to have broken a 9-9 tie on Ryan Young’s diving goal from behind the net with 13 minutes, 55 seconds left in the fourth quarter. But the score was overturned on a challenge.

That swung the momentum New York’s way, but the Lizards didn’t capitalize until the final five minutes. Rob Pannell scored twice in a 52-second span, then assisted on Michael Kimmel’s goal with 2:59 remaining for a 12-9 lead.

Still, the Hounds weren’t out of it.

A tough faceoff win by Brendan Fowler set up Mason Poli’s third 2-point goal of the season with 2:17 left, cutting the Lizards’ lead to a single goal. Charlotte regained possession with 52 seconds left for a final shot, but a turnover ended a chance at overtime.

“Losing to a playoff (team) 12-11 shows that we’ve got what it takes,” Ward said. “We can be a playoff team, we just need to eliminate a couple of silly mistakes or defensive breakdowns.”

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